Forty-Five Years Ago Today - Sonny Liston KO's Floyd Patterson In 1 Round, Again!

by James Slater: Exactly forty-five years ago today, at The Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Charles "Sonny" Liston, the reigning heavyweight king, starched challenger and former champion Floyd Patterson in one quick round.

Making the first (and as it turned out last successful) defence of the title he'd brutally relieved Patterson of inside a single round the previous September, Liston's punches were once again weapons Floyd had no answer for.. In fight one the end came after 2 minutes and 5 seconds. Fight two was all over after just 2 minutes and 9 seconds. Looking every bit like an unbeatable and long-ruling heavyweight champion, Liston was the quintessential "Bad Man."

Not only was he a destroyer inside the ring - the rematch win over Patterson being his 34th career win, all but seven coming inside the distance - but Liston was also seen as a bad guy out of it. Having served time in jail, having known mob handlers and being all but illiterate, Sonny was not a champion the general public warmed to. Desperate to see "Good Guy" Patterson beat up "The Thug," the majority of fight fans were once again disappointed this day in July forty-five years ago. Liston was a champ to stay. Or so it seemed.

No-one would have guessed it, but in his very next fight after despatching Floyd, Liston would be beaten and all but finished as a top class heavyweight. Today, we all know who was waiting in the wings to "Shake up the world," but back in the summer of 1963 no heavyweight seemed up to the task of taking Liston's belt - least of all a loud-mouthed kid who had boxed in the Olympics as a light-heavyweight!

Still, that monumental upset was a good few months away. For now, Liston could enjoy being the heavyweight champion. Sonny didn't really enjoy it, however, as he was upset with the fans' decision not to like him. "The fans don't like me now," Sonny said, "but pretty soon they'll have to swing along." He was wrong, the fans never did swing along and get to really like him. Having said that, when he fought his eventual conqueror in Cassius Clay for a second time - Clay by now, of course, being known as Muhammad Ali - the fans did root for the former bad guy. Liston was not now a hero, but in comparison to a member of an unknown and dangerously perceived group such as The Nation of Islam, as Ali was, Liston was all of a sudden a better option for heavyweight champion.

Sadly for Liston, with the fans at last on his side, he was to suffer the fate Patterson had twice experienced against him. Sonny was stopped in the first round of his return fight with Ali. Even worse, Liston was derided for having taken a dive. His boxing career was all but over.

Two summers previously, when he was violently slamming Floyd Patterson to the canvas for a second time, the turn of events that occurred in May of 1965 could not have been even remotely imagined.

Article posted on 22.07.2008

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